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The 11th Question to Ask Before Buying a Marketing Automation Solution

Posted by Dan McDade

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on Oct 20, 2011 6:22:00 AM

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ElevenA good read I discovered recently is a post by Lauren Carlson, What Do You Wish You Had Asked Your MA Vendor?, on the Marketing Automation Software Guide blog.

Lauren’s article is based on her survey of marketing automation users that sought—knowing what they know now—the questions they would ask vendors if they were going back and buying their software all over again.

Lauren notes that many people, if given the chance, would go back and do things differently, and their top ten most popular responses have been nicely aligned in four categories: integration, support, product roadmap and maintenance. Each of the categories features candid and detailed quotations from respondents to illustrate why they would ask their new questions.

As I read the article, it occurred to me that I would add an eleventh critical question:

Do you have best-practice lead generation and lead nurturing processes in place before you implement a marketing automation solution?

Before continuing, I want to mention that PointClear is a strong advocate of marketing automation solutions. We work with our complex-sale B2B clients to leverage their marketing automation initiatives, and marketing automation is a key ingredient of our internal lead generation, lead qualification and lead nurturing processes. Supporting our commitment to increased marketing automation success, PointClear recently became a charter member of the newly-founded Marketing Automation Institute.

But implementing a marketing automation solution with the hope that it will deliver previously-unrealized lead generation and lead nurturing success is a recipe for failure. We often hear B2B marketing and sales executives say that they initially invested in marketing automation with expectations that their solutions would deliver large numbers of pre-qualified leads and support elimination or decrease of proactive outbound initiatives.

In one case, a CMO relayed that the sales force believed marketing automation would allow them to decrease outbound lead generation initiatives and would deliver large numbers of qualified opportunities. Needless to say, this did not happen, and the company has invested again in best-practice outbound lead generation.

In another situation, a marketing VP reported that marketing automation greatly increased the number of unqualified contact names and placed overwhelming demands on inside sales resources. This company revisited its core lead generation processes, adjusted the MA/traditional-initiative balance, and reset its MA expectations.

I cite these examples to illustrate a core truth: marketing automation can be an extremely valuable, high-return investment, but only when it is implemented on top of a strong, pre-existing infrastructure of lead generation and lead nurturing best-practice processes.

Along these lines, I invite you take a look at a seven-part series, Lead Generation Best Practices, that includes critical success factors like lead and market definition, balancing outbound and inbound, the use of dedicated resources, and more.

Implementing marketing automation without best-practice processes in place guarantees an unwanted outcome: a faster, more expensive way to waste marketing and sales investments.


By Dan McDade

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Topics: B2B Marketing, Marketing Strategy, B2B Sales, Lead Management

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